How to Repair Water-Damaged Furniture

Water marks appear on wood furniture when moisture becomes trapped under the finish.

All Wood Finishes

This produces a milky white stain on the surface of the wood. To remove the marks, the moisture must be absorbed from the beneath the finish. Repair water-damaged furniture and restore the wood to its former beauty with household items.

Cover the water-damaged area of the wood with a white cotton t-shirt or pillow case.

Iron or blow-dry the fabric-covered water stain for a few seconds. A medium heat setting works best. Raise the fabric from the wood and allow the wood to cool.

Repeat steps one and two until the water damage is gone.

Glossy Finish

Apply a small amount of white toothpaste to the water stain.

Rub the toothpaste into the wood, using a white cotton towel or washcloth, in the direction of the wood grain.

Finish by polishing the wood furniture with a rubbing compound to even out the finish.

Satin Finish

Add a few drops of lemon oil to the water-damaged wood.

Rub in the direction of the wood grain with extra fine steel wool to buff the lemon oil into the water marks.

Wipe away any excess lemon oil. Polish the entire surface with furniture polish.

Things You Will Need

  • White cotton t-shirt or pillow case
  • Iron or blow-dryer
  • White toothpaste
  • White cotton towel or washcloth
  • Rubbing compound
  • Extra fine steel wool
  • Lemon oil
  • Furniture polish


  • If none of the above suggestions remove the water stains, the damage is too deep under the surface of the wood to be rubbed out. The only way to remove very deep water damage is to sand and refinish the furniture.

About the Author

Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.